Opinion: 'Under-pressure' Arsenal figure made three big mistakes during 2020/2021 Premier League season as Gunners finished eighth
With another season gone, it seems the same old problems have cropped up yet again for Arsenal after the Gunners finished in 8th place for second-year running in the Premier League.
However, the problems plaguing what is a weak first-team squad has been discussed to death, the real issue may well lie at the feet of Mikel Arteta, who himself has been a culprit in this campaign.
A range of issues regarding the Spaniard, who has been labelled as ‘under-pressure, has popped up over the last few months of the season especially in the aftermath of the humiliating Europa League semi-final exit at the hands of former boss Unai Emery.
The league has offered little comfort to the former Manchester City assistant especially in the first-half of the campaign where the side were languishing just above the relegation zone.
With that in mind, here are Arteta’s three biggest errors during the 2020/2021 league season.
The first glaring error might have missed the attention of the masses, however, has been a crucial one. His stubbornness in keeping Willian in the starting XI for the majority of the opening months of the term really hampered the side in attack.
Willian’s performances were far from ideal, showing off a lack of enthusiasm in the final third to drive at his opposition marker, which well displayed in his lack of goals. It took until the final knockings of the season for the former Chelsea man to score, even then it was a free-kick just outside the area in the 3-1 win over West Bromwich Albion.
Arteta’s persistence in the winger hampered the progress of Nicolas Pepe, who had ended the 2019/2020 season off with a flourish after his superb performance in the FA Cup final win over Chelsea. The Ivorian started this term with just four starts in 15 top-flight fixtures, a sign of where the 38-year-old’s loyalty lay.
The second error was placing far too much emphasis on the defence as opposed to attack. Whilst Arsenal did finish the year with the third-best defence in the division, they were also the joint-eighths highest scorers in the top 11. Only Everton scored less goals than Arteta’s men, who need to find the correct balance next year.
And there third, yet most crucial error, is the manager’s lack of flexibility in tactical coaching. Over the course of the season, if a team had parked the bus, Arsenal would be struggling quite badly. The lack of flexibility from Artea, tactically was the starkest problem facing the Gunners and needs sorting with the top-flight set to become even more competitive next season.
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